Tuesday, April 29, 2008

The Devil's Advocate

I've often felt if John Grisham had written THE OMEN this is what it would have turned out like. The devil is on Earth (he just happens to be Al Pacino, go figure) and he's in the legal business. Enter Keanu Reeves as a small town lawyer who has never lost a case. Snatch him and Charlize Theron up and bring 'em to New York and let the party begin. Fast, tight directing from Taylor Hackford who would a couple years later win an Oscar for RAY and perfect casting all around make THE DEVIL'S ADVOCATE a fine little scary and sexy number.

The Shipping News

Between this and BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN, E. Annie Proulx has much to be proud of as far as her contributions to Hollywood go, While BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN certainly stirred the Oscar folks into a frenzy this one was totally ignored and it's a crying shame. A haunting tale of loss and recovery, Lasse Hallstrom is at his very best directing here. While some have been critical of Kevin Spacey here it must be said it helps to understand the Maritime manner and he nails it right smack on the head. Of course it doesn't hurt to have Gordon Pinsent along side to help. Judi Dench is yet again solid as the very rock they are acting on and, yet again, Cate Blachett is damn near impossible to detect leading me to think she may very well be the best morphing actress in the business today. Pete Postlethwaite, Scott Glenn and the always entertaining Rhys Ifans provide superb support and if there is any weakness to be found in this cast it would have to be with Julianne Moore who, even though she LOOKS right for the part, is somehow lacking the depth necessary to carry the heart of the character she is given. Even then, I'd be splitting hairs as this is one moving and heart warming piece of work. A nice little touc as well was using the Gainer triplets in the role of Bunny Quoyle. THE SHIPPING NEWS is a perfect choice for a Saturday dinner and flick night in with a loved one.

Zaat (Attack of the Swamp Creature)

I've seen my share of bad films in this lifetime but I have to say ATTACK OF THE SWAMP CREATURE may very well be the worst. The entire cast never made another film nor did a majority of the crew! We have walking fucking catfish and a mad scientist dude who turns into a monster friggin' catfish and on top of all this we have yet another of the bloody awful hippie ass folk songs thrown in there to bore and annoy the living shit out of us and that my dear firends is all you EVER need to know about ZAAT!

Cool Hand Luke

"What we've got here is failure to communicate". Up there with the most famous of lines uttered in the history of film yet most can't tell you where it is from or who uttered it. COOL HAND LUKE is of course the answer and the line was spoken by the late Strother Martin. That line aside, this film is all about the great Paul Newman who notches another amazing perfomance on the ol' leather belt. This one is worth watching for the egg eating scene if nothing else but one can't ignore the sheer numbers of star power presetn here. George Kennedy, J.D. Cannon, Morgan Woodward, Clifton James, Dennis Hopper, Harry Dean Stanton and Anthony Zerbe in his film debut, all of them surrounded by an alumnus of character actors making this a smogashborg of who is that and where do I know him from. Meanwhile Stuart Rosenberg directs this light hearted yet tragic tale to utter perfection making it a true modern classic.


If it weren't for the fact damn near everybody ends up dead in this one I would have thought I was watching a pilot for yet another forensic sciences primetimer. That being said, this offering from Renny Harlin is one seriously flawed piece of work....I'm talking plot holes big enough to fly a space shuttle through. This is, of course, not a problem because MINDHUNTERS is a silly bit of fun that just so happens to have a good deal of splat in it. I can understand how thye snagged Christian (yes, I'm a graduate of the Donald Sutherland school of acting) Slater but I'm still scratching my head as to how Val Kilmer got roped into this mess. Jonny Lee Miller of HACKERS and recent ELI STONE fame carries most of the weight here and you know a film is in trouble when LL Cool J stands out for his acting talent but hey, as I said, this is silly fun and if the whole profiler genre is your cup of tea this just might hit the spot.....at least there are a couple of cool death scenes.

I'm Not Rappaport

I was fortunate enough to catch a production of this Herb Gardner play a few years back and was quite interested in seeing how he would present it on the big screen. Sadly, despite the stellar work of the late Walter Matthau and Ossie Davis I'M NOT RAPPAPORT just quite doesn't work in movie form. Sure, our two leads are a pleasure to watch but in this format the theme just seems drawn out and the effectiveness of this study of what he means to grow old is lost. Well worth a viewing if you have the time and patience but you would be better served to wait until you can catch it on stage yourself.


You can be forgiven if you took a pass on this one which looks like just another Bruce Willis cop flick released at a time when he flooded the market with such fare. However HOSTAGE is a different kind of film. This may have to do with the directing style of Florent Emilio Siri, who I must say after seeing HOSTAGE I am certainly far more interested in. The story itself is nothing special, through buggered up situations Willis must resolve a crisis or stand to have his own family killed. What sets it apart is the strength of the acting and the way the action is presented. You can always rely on Kevin Pollack for good support work and here is no exception. What is happens to be Ben Foster who I swear looks as though he were Trent Reznor doing a slasher flick...the effect is quite disturbing. Better yet, Willis gives more than normal here, showing some depth of character so sadly missing from much of his work during that period and it's a pleasant relief. I should also add the opening credits are one of the coolest I've ever seen. Not Oscar material but certainly damn entertaining.

Swimming to Cambodia

I can say as I would suggest you do this one two puch like I did, at least not without a good bottle of scotch and some prozac! Spalding Gray had this amazing ability to make Woody Allen seem cheery and for my money that certainly says something. Jonathan Demme directed this straight forward record of Gray's monologue based on his experiences in Cambodia while working on THE KILLING FIELDS and while funny at times you can already see the caustic nature of the depression which would later cost him his life. To be sure it is the work of a genius but must be approached with care and at your own risk.

The Killing Fields

Much has been said of this brutal look at the Khmer Rouge and their actions during the war in Cambodia and I can't say as I have much to add other than it should be required viewing for anybody attending journalism school. Despite the gruesome subject matter THE KILLING FIELDS still manages to be a film about hope and Dr. Haing S. Ngor well desrved his Oscar for his work here never mind what John Malkovich jokingly had to say about it. The biggest surprise here for me on a recent viewing was seeing a young Sam Waterston. I think we are all so damned used to seeing him on the various LAW & ORDER series we sometimes forget the man was one an A-List Hollywood star and he sure as hell earned his peanuts in this one. A powerful and harrowing piece of work to say the least but still, like many of the great war movies, necessary to be seen so we don't forget as we so often do.

What's New Pussycat?

This marks the first screenplay and on screen debut of Woody Allen and I never ever thought I would say this but he manages to be funnier than the late great Peter Sellers who seems to be sadly wasted in this early Sixties romp in the hay. Peter O'Toole star as a man with a problem, this being too many women in his life. While he wants to settle down with his fiance he simply can't seem to not end up in the arms and beds of other with the ladies, in earnest, dropping from the sky, in this case the lovely Ursula Andress. A bit nebulous in story at times and borrowing heavily from the skit style made famous by the likes of Benny Hill, WHAT'S NEW PUSSYCAT? still remains a fun and raunchy bit of fluff and must be seen by students of the Woody Allen school of neurosis.

Birthday Girl

I grow fonder and fonder of Nicole Kidman's work with each new film of hers I see and even though BIRTHDAY GIRL was a 2001 release I was once again amazed by her performance. This one seems to have slipped under the radar as most people I know haven't heard of it let alone seen it and I must sya that is quite unfortunate. It's a simple tale on the surface, a lonely bank clerk, played by Ben Chaplin, decides to try his luck with a mail-order Russian bride (Kidman) and when her two cousins show up things really fuck up. It sure doesn't help when one of the said cousins happens to be Vincent Cassel of recent EASTERN PROMISES fame. Those literal minded tit-heads who love to rip plot devices to shreds will have problems with BIRTHDAY GIRL but if you leave your intellect out of the equation and let the film do it's job it turns out to be one beautiful, tense, horrific and ultimately sensual love story, one of the best I've seen in a long time, so much so I had to rewatch it at once. Why this film is so unknown remains a great mystery to me, kind of like dust bunnies.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Society of Genitorture

This is not so much a movie as a collage of concert footage of the GENITORTURERS live show strung together to resemble something akin to a carnival crossed with an S&M porno film. The music is heavy, the slaves delightful and as always Gen is in full control. Really for members only but will certainly provide an eye full for the curious of heart.


Not sure if this story about the life of Cole Porter is legit or not but it sure is one mighty powerful love story if I do say so myself. Kevin Kline has always had great acting chops but here he shows the mettle of a master. Ashley Judd once again shows she has the makings of a serious actress and I suspect she may very well take an Oscar or two one of these days. The real magic here, however, is with the music and this, combined with a solid script and strong directing make DE-LOVELY a truly special experience and I was amazingly surprised at just how enjoyable it was.


MIMIC was the film which brough Guillermo del Toro to the attention of the masses and it certainly was a nice breakthrough vehicle for him. His take on the classic monster film, in this case a mutant form of cockroach, is far classier than you might think and this is mainly due to his knack for casting. Mira Sorvino is actually believable as the entomologist on the case for this happening and with the likes of F. Murray Abraham, Charles S. Dutton and Giancarlo Giannini floating around things are just bound to be intense. Shot here in Toronto, MIMIC makes use of our "lost subway" station located beneath the BAY/BLOOR stop. As far as I know it will be open during the DOORS OPEN festival coming up and is a neat little bit of our city's history. Oddly enough, the biggest flaw in MIMIC has to do with a subway scene in which a matted scene is poorly executed. Still, this one manages to not only entertain but deliver some genuine shocks and should not be overlooked.


I'm still not sure why it is I'm not a bigger fan of Jamie Foxx. He is more than consistant in bringing life to complex characters and here in Michael Mann's COLLATERAL he outdoes himself, for that matter so does Tom Cruise. A dark and complex piece of work it is a well rounded thrilling ride and well worth a look.


I must say I greatly enjoy Gregory Hoblit's film work and FRACTURE is no exception. Sure, there are a few holes in the plot, some highly unlikely situations and a love angle we could have done without but what there is more than makes up for the few flaws. Strong and often hilarious dialogue from the great Anthony Hopkins is the real attraction here though I'm sure there are more than enough out there that will watch just to oohh, awww and drool over Ryan Gosling. A fun little thriller which needs to be seen uncut to fully enjoy the use of language.


Jamie Blanks, who hit a major payday with URBAN LEGEND, goes back to the horror well with this firm tongue-in-cheek send up of the "romantic holiday". David Boreanaz, Denise Richards and Katherine Heigl, amoungst others, are the beautiful people/lambs up for slaughter in this interesting piece of work. Great visuals, good use of suspense tactics and a sharp look at spped/computer dating all make this a slight cut above the average offerings in the genre but I have to say why make a slasher film if you ain't gonna show the splat....kind of defeats the purpose dontcha think.

Diary of a Sex Addict

Great title. fucking horrible film and I use the word "film" very lightly. More like a bad montage of something lifted out of the pages of Penthouse Forum with wretched acting from Michael Des Barres who honestly looks like he couldn't pull a two dollar whore let alone the babes he's banging in what must have been a money laundering project because they sure as hell must have had to shell out some serious dough to get Rosanna Arquette and Nastassja Kinski to appear in this stink fest. I'm serious, some diaries simply should remain unread and unseen.

Something Wicked This Way Comes

Even though Ray Bradbury and director Jack Clayton were grossly upset with what Disney did to this film prior to release I have to say it is one hell of a fantastic yarn. The two had worked together back in the Fifties when Clayton was producing MOBY DICK and it's certainly nice to see them do so again thrity years later. Dealing with a dark carnival (the book from whence the story comes) with an even darker secret this is a story about the young and the old and the juxtaposition of the two is executed to precision here. While Jonathan Pryce is fantastic as Mr. Dark, the master of ceremonies if you will of this wandering band of mystics, it is Jason Robards who delivers a career performance. It's both light fare and dark subject matter at the same time but it is pure Bradbury and will delight all age groups.

The Night Flier

Add this to the list of Stephen King films that seriously suck but I must say it is well worth a watch just to see Miguel Ferrer do his cranky routine. He is just utter scum in this one, with a similar demeanor to the character he plays of CROSSING JORDAN, speaking of which I'd love to see him do a HOUSE crossover with Hugh Laurie. Anyway, THE NIGHT FLIER, other than Ferrer, is an utter waste of time, poorly scripted, horrid special effects and just plain stupid.

Emotional Arithmetic

I'm not sure what I think about this dark piece of work based on the Matt Coen novel and directed by Paolo Barzman. It deals with the story of three survivors of Drancy, a detainment camp near Paris which was used as a holding area before it's Jewish occupants were shipped to the various death centres. To say the subject matter is dark is taking it lightly and while this is one of the main themes there is the other on the effect this reunion has on a lady's immediate family. There is some top notch acting to be seen here from the likes of Susan Sarandon, in her most serious role since DEAD MAN WALKING, Gabriel Byrne and Max von Sydow. Christopher Plummer all but steals the film with his portrayal of the cantankerous retired history professor and Roy Dupuis of JESUS OF MONTREAL and MAURICE RICHARD fame lends a wonderful side bar to the proceedings. When I say I'm not sure what I think of EMOTIONAL ARITHMETIC I am thinking this is one of those novels better left to the printed word rather than a moving picture and while the visuals, especially the scenic Quebec landscapes, and a feast for the eyes the story itself is plodding and cumberson. Well worth a viewing on DVD but you can save your twelve bucks at the cinema.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

John Tucker Must Die

I can't blame Betty Thomas for trying to make a living but damned if this wasn't an utter travesty of film making. Granted, it's for the tweenie girls but I can usually sit through these type of films and take away something....a laugh...a thought...anything...but with JOHN TUCKER MUST DIE....nothing! Well...that's not entirely true. It did make me feel old to hear constant covers of songs I grew up with, in one case a cover OF A COVER of a Cyndi Lauper tune for heaven's sake....then again with the likes of Brittany Snow, Ashanti and Jenny McCarthy what was I expecting.


HEAVY marks the directorial debut of James Mangold who would go on to have great success with the likes of GIRL, INTERRUPTED and WALK THE LINE though you would have never been able to tell from this work. It's not that HEAVY is a bad film, far from it, it's just that it is unlike anything else he would later do. Pruitt Taylor Vince is the real star of this film even though it's recently been heavily marketed for Liv Tyler and though she is a major part of it the story really does revolve around a "heavy" cook in a family diner and how he goes about dealing with changes in his life and making the ones he so desperately longs for. It's a slow and methodical pice of work much like the character Vince portrays. Tyler, in her second big screen role, is adequate but rather light weight for the part. She does have some great moments on screen with Debbie Harry though they tend to strecth the realm of believability as if Tyler were to tell Harry to "fuck off" you just know Debbie would lay the bitch slap down on her! Speaking of heavy, Shelly Winters has a small part as the mother and adds a nice flavor to the overall mix. A bit of a snoozer but moving if you give it the chance.

La Belle et la bete (Beauty and the Beast)

When it comes to blurbing this legendary 1946 film from Jean Cocteau what can I add to the thousands of pages and observations written and made over the years. It still stands as a landmark in surrealism, this is a given but what I can mention is it is one of the few black and white films, subtitled no less, I've seen able to hold the attention younger viewers. The language seems to be of no import to them and it is the very fairy tale imagery Cocteau was so famous for that keeps them riveted to the screen. One interesting bit of trivia many are not aware of is the famous fashion designer Pierre Cardin supervised the making of the costumes at the Jeanne Lanvin house. Every bit as powerful as I remember it, do your kids the service and scrap the Disney version in favour of this.

Pushing Tin

John Cusack and Billy Bob Thronton star in this mismarketed comedy, a problem all to frequent in my mind. You see, the film simply is not funny, it's about an air traffic controller whose life comes undone thanks to an ill timed affair with Angelina Jolie's character. Sound familiar? Mike Newell, another one of those directors who honed his skill on that weird little show CORONATION STREET I keep hearing about, tries his damndest to keep this one together but the script just allows the whole thing to crash like a plane without a prop. There are two SUPER funny scenes involving an interesting CGI effect I'll leave unmentioned just in case you decide to sit through this one as it's the only laughs you're likely to get. For local folks it might be of interest to see the Hollywood boys try to pass Scarborough and Etobicoke of for the New Jersey suburbs which I reckon wasn't all that difficult and to see the incredible Cate Blanchett morph herself into yet another unrecognizable character.

Mary Shelley's Frankenstein

I used to have many problems with this Kenneth Branagh production of this classic tale and most of them had to do with me finding his ego to be akin to that of Sting. Upon a recent reviewing I was surprised to find just what a faithful adaptation it truly is and Branagh, perhaps through "natural" talent does an exceptional job of portraying the egomaniacal insanity of Frankenstein. Helena Bonham Carter is a bit overdramatic for the role but I gather her and Ken were having quite a time during filming so we can excuse this. What I can't excuse is the casting of Robert De Niro as the creature. Even though a few years had passed he looks as though he just lumbered from the set of CAPE FEAR, had some make-up slapped on his face and then set about doing his work. I'm serious, there ain't enough latex in the world to cover that mug of his and you almost expect the creature to mumble "you talkin' to me" at any second. Still, it's far better than myself and many others have given it credit for and deserves a second look when one might feel so inclined if for nothing else but to see John Cleese play a straight role.

Milo 55160

While only a short (18 to 20 minutes depending on the cut) this soon to be cult classic is an absolute must-see. It's been running on CBC as a filler for late nate and is well worth staying up a bit longer should you come across it. Patrick McKenna of THE RED GREEN SHOW/TRADERS fame and all around great guy stars as a clerical worker in Heaven who is faced with a rather unique problem and this is all I will tell you about this one. Starkly directed by David Ostry this is one mighty complex piece considering it's duration and one of the coolest things I've ever seen.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Miami Vice

For some reason I wasn't as excited about this big screen version of the popular Eighties television show as I perhaps should have been. I've always been a fan of Michael Mann's work but something about MIAMI VICE just never settled well with me. I'm happy to report the movie is more than adequate. Straight forward in the story department, a bit cheesy at times in it's nods to the original show but lots of great action and good chemistry between Jamie Fox and Colin Farrell. Not as many Michael Mann signature shots as I would have liked but still some great visuals.


John Waters followed HAIRSPRAY with this, another musical, and in my opinion the better of the two and it's now official, CRY-BABY is about to hit Broadway and I'm quite looking forward to it. I was never a big fan of HAIRSPRAY and I'm not a big fan of musicals in general but I still love GREASE and when Waters decided to do his take on it I was intrigued. You can hardly call it a spoof as it is genuine in heart despite some obviously silly moments. This was an early work for Johnny Depp who is now like a God or something and he sings which is interesting as he received rave reviews for the recent SWEENEY TODD. Iggy Pop and Traci Lords are here as are Joe Dallasandro and Patricia Hearst and a whole assortment of oddities which I'll let you discover for yourself. Great silly fun that will have you singing for days!

Saturday, April 19, 2008

License to Wed

One can't blame Robin Williams for accepting a paycheck but the director should have his license to make feature films taken away.

To Live and Die in L.A.

Even though he lost it's easy to see why Michael Mann might have been inclined to sue William Friedkin for ripping off MIAMI VICE, of course we won't take the fact Mann "borrowed" quite a bit from Friedkin himself! That aside, TO LIVE AND DIE IN L.A. is one serious cop film, not the feel good buddy buddy type, no, this is as hard boiled as it comes and after seeing William Petersen here I really think he should tackle a version of MIKE HAMMER or even THE BIG SLEEP. Petersen of course is the main guy on CSI but this marks his first leading role on the big screen (oddly his first wasa bit part in Mann's THIEF just before this!) and what a way to break into the world. Willem Dafoe also gives, surprise surprise, a superb slimeball presentation of the criminal Petersen so desperately wants revenge on. Sharply directed, greatly acted and even though dated as an Eighties piece it still holds up very well.

Snakes on a Plane

I remember walking by the rep theatre as this one was being let out and overhearing an old dude in a tweed suit with an unlit pipe sticking out of the side of his mouth, a beard like Farley Mowatt and a Tilley hat which had not been broken in on top of his no doubt balding head and he said "what a preposterous premise to that film" which led me to thinking "it's called SNAKES ON A PLANE you dumb fuck.....what the hell did you expect?!?!?!?!?!?" and that is all I think I have to say about this one.

Lady Jane

Why let a pesky thing like history get in the way of a good love story or at least that would seem to be the credo of the scripters of this "historical" drama. At least they got the part about Lady Jane, who ruled as Queen of England for just over a week, having her head lopped off right! As for the great love affair with Guilford never happened. Fortunate for us in the film it does, making LADY JANE a big hit for the tweenies. With Helena Bonham Carter doing the second of her big screen corseted stints and Cary Elwes (who in real life is related to BOTH Jane and Guilford) along for the ride they manage to pout, and stomp and generally piss off the likes of Patrick Stewart, John Wood and Joss Ackland. It's a great piece of work with some wonderful depth of character....just don't let your kids use it to cheat on a history assignment.

The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou

Wes Anderson films can certainly be considered an aquired taste. Films like RUSHMORE and THE ROYAL TENENBAUMS, yes, they can be considered comedies....dark comedies but at least comedies. THE LIFE AQUATIC WITH STEVE ZISSOU........it would be a riot if it weren't so sad and make no mistake...this is a seriously sad film dealing with loss, yearning. mistakes and still more loss with that ever wonderful glimpse of the salvation called hope. Bill Murray once again stands on top of the mountain with an understated performance which bears at LEAST a second viewing. Joinging him are Owen Wilson, Willem Dafoe, Michael Gambon, Anjelica Huston and Cate Blanchett who chalks another amazing role on her wall of achievements. Adding to this slight spoof of the Jacques Cousteau films of the Sixties and Seventies is a quirky score from Mark Mothersbaugh. One very unique and bizarre film destined to keep you thinking for days.

continuavano a chimarlo Trinita (Trinty Is Still My Name!)

Another fine entry in the Trinty series. Terence Hill and Bud Spencer return to stir up more of their Western fun. It's strainght forward nonsense but always light spirited entertainment and suitable for all ages.

Suspect Zero

E. Elias Merhige worked wonders in SHADOW OF THE VAMPIRE but with SUSPECT ZERO he seems to have overreached a tad bit. Dealing with a CIA developed remote viewer (Ben Kingsley) on the trail of a serial killer, this film never manages to find flight, constantly stalling just as it seems to be getting of the ground. For style alone it is interesting and Kingsley once again is a treasure to watch but I strongly advise against watching it with a hangover or an ear infection because of the way Merhige uses sound. Those who see it will know what I mean.

The Stepford Wives

This 1975 satirical horror classic never quite gets the respect it deserves in my eyes, eyes by the way being a central theme in this societal up yours penned by the late Ira Levin and adapted by the great William Goldman for the screen. It's a dated piece of film work for sure but this remains one of it's precious charms. Looking at the plastic nature of consumer society one can easily liken THE STEPFORD WIVES as being a mutant offspring of the LEAVE IT TO BEAVER generation. It takes it's time to build it's scares and while most of the are of a psychological nature they still pack a mighty wollop if one allows them to. Katharine Ross shines in her role as the wife who doesn't seem to quite fit into the wive's circle of Stepford and this film also happens to be the big screen introductions of Dee Wallace and Mary Stuart Masterson. A slowburner, no contest, but a far cry better than the remake which was a true horror show!

Friday, April 18, 2008

The Wind and the Lion

John Milius is certainly riding the crest of a mighty wave right now on the popularity of his series ROME and though I've not yet seen the show after finally catching this 1975 picture I'm mighty damn interested. Set during the presidency of Theodore Roosevelt, well portrayed by the late Brian Keith, THE WIND AND THE LION sure as hell will show you not much has changed in relations between the West and the Middle East. While the war itself is the manjor motivativating force and backdrop for the film it is really about how men react to the women and the children in their lives and the comparison between Roosevelt and Raisuli, fictitious or not, and a wonderful bit of cinematic mastery. Sean Connery as Raisuli is a bit of a casting stretch but he more than charms his way though it so that you forget all about his accent and simply accept him in the role and Candice Bergen is absolutely amazing as the American mother of two who is kidnapped along with her children which of course causes quite the international political rukus. This, of course, did not happen but I, as I'm sure writer/director Milius and the rest of the movie going public did, would much rather see a smokin' hot Bergen (I don't care what anybody say...she rocked...hell...she still does!) than the boring old dude they snatched for real. An amazing piece of work all around and falls under the category of "they just don't make 'em like they used to".

Xing xing wang (The Mighty Peking Man)

I was under the impression this Quentin Tarantino's Rolling Thunder Pictures presentation was a modern mock up/slash homage to the chintzy Japanese monster films of the Seventies and I finally got around to watching it recently and was thinking to myself "damn.....it must be hard to make a bad film look this authentic on purpose these days....what an amazing job they did"! Then Evelyne Kraft showed up on the screen and I said "hey, I'd know that rack anywhere"! Turns out THE MIGHTY PEKING MAN did the matinee rounds when I was a kid back in 1977 and at the time it was written off part and parcel as a bad rip-off of the JAPANESE King Kong for fuck's sake! Of course, roll time forward and slap Quentin's name on the friggin' thing and everybody and their cat and dog of course knows allllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllll about Japanese monster films, especially said Peking Man....which is utter pretentious bull shit. Anyway, if the genre is your cup of tea stick to a classic like KING KONG V.S. GODZILLA although the Russian Kraft is always worth a look or two as she displays her...ahem....acting talents.

Sex, Lies, and Videotape

Oh yeah, great film to follow RED SHOE DIARIES with....not only will you want to snuff it, should you fail you'll never date again! Still, a great piece of work and the directorial debut of Steven Soderbergh who would of course go on to become of blockbuster power house. James Spader is once again the star attraction here though kudos have to be given to Laura San Giacomo, Andie MacDowell and even to regular Adam Sandler sidekick Steven Brill in his second big screen appearance. He plays a small part but it gives some much needed comic relief in this dark and dank piece of twisted emotional flotsam without sticking out as the soooooo overused one-liner or token funny guy. Again though, it really is a Spader show and certainly worth digging out for a closer look.

Red Shoe Diaries

Well, here is one of those fun little films that make you want to slit your wrists after watching it....oh wait...that's what the lead character does! Oh, did I ruin something for you? It won't matter one iota, this is another film about sex, much like Zalman King's other films 9 1/2 WEEKS and WILD ORCHID and any illusion of an actual story is just that. Mind you, in RED SHOE DIARIES we have David Duchovny doing the whole broody pouting thing of which he can only be matched by David Boreanaz but I'm sure Duchovny would kick his ass on the basketball court and the other wat around on the ice...come to think of it...I'd much rather see those two do the celebrity sport challenge thing and I betcha that would get the chickie poo's watching some games! All joking aside, this pilot shot for the HBO late night soft core series is a fine piece of work, wonderfully shot, above average acting and one serious all around bummer of an ending.....but hey...doesn't love always turn out like that...at least in the real world?

Deux fréres (Two Brothers)

For some reason I was unaware this was a Jean-Jacques Annaud film until AFTER I'd watched it a couple of times and truth be told I shouldn't have been one bit surprised. As he's shown us time and time again with such films as THE LOVER, QUEST FOR FIRE, THE NAME OF THE ROSE, THE BEAR and even ENEMY AT THE GATES, he can take a fantastical story and breathe life into it as a painter would a canvas. This is a simple tale with many complexities dealing with a man and two tiger cubs seperated in their youth and how the lives of the three intertwine. This is all I wish to tell you about this, other than Guy Pearce is at his very best here, even better than MEMENTO.......like vintage Robert Redford or Paul Newman best! Leave the logic hat on the hook you prefer to hang it on, grab the popcorn. pull up a cushion and be prepared to be awed.

Tyrone (Bad Trip)

As best as I can figure this 1999 bomb was repackaged to cash in on the rising stars of Ethan Suplee and Kevin Connoly in 2005. Suplee hit it big in MY NAME IS EARLE (though he was great in AMERICAN HISTORY X) and Connoly broke well in ENTOURAGE and advance buzz has him reaching household name status for his work in the upcoming HE'S JUST NOT THAT INTO YOU. This aside, TYRONE is really the Coolio show. He pulls an Eddie Murphy and plays three roles (mind you, one is pretty damn brief) and I wouldn't be the least bit surprised if he and his crew footed the bill for the whole damn thing. The directors, who are usually production folks, haven't made a film between them since which is more than likely for the best. While there are a few funny bits and a couple of interesting moments there is nothing all that special here. Good if you happen to be a Coolio fan but other than that you can skip this "bad trip".

Secretary's Day

Well, somebody was bound to do it sooner or later and it may as well have been the Ramsteer Films folks. What can I say, low budget, unknown cast but some half decent splat and actually some pretty damn funny moments. Might be worth reworking in a few years with a higher bankroll and a tighter script.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008


This is another one of those films with no middle ground....you'll either love it or hate it but you certainly won't forget it. Nicole Kidman plays a woman who is confronted with a young boy claiming to be the reincarnation of her dead husband and this turns into one mind-blowing psychodrama. Kidman is bloody perfect here and to see her work with Lauren Bacall is an absolute pleasure. Also special is Ted Levine in a straight role and he shows great depth in his portrayal of the father of the young boy. The ending is a serious downer and this is certainly not a feel good film but it is an amazing piece of work.

The Notebook

You know you're in trouble when you sit down to watch a film that has won the "best kiss" award at the MTV TEEN AWARDS and you know you're even deeper in when the film is based on a book by Nicholas Sparks. I like Sparks even if he tends to thump his bible a bit too much but her has no problem killing off a main character if it will make the girlies cry and THE NOTEBOOK will do just that. I was not expecting much from this one and was absolutely stunned at what a powerful piece of work it turned out to be. While Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams were the ones setting teen hearts on fire all throughout North America it was James Garner and Gene Rowlands who stole the film and you will be hard pressed, old jaded cynic or not, to be able to keep a dry eye watching their interaction. Far, far better than you might expect!


Well, if you're looking to spend a couple of hours oggling the late Dorothy Stratten this film might be worth a peek but if your are actually in the mood to be entertained you would do well to avoid this stinker. Brought to us by William Sachs, who gave us THE INCREDIBLE MELTING MAN, GALAXINA is just bloody awful! Poorly acted, poorly scripted, wretched special effects and just all around wretched. Come to think of it, even with the former Playmate of the Year this thing just ain't worth watching.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Bad News Bears

I wasn't expecting much from this remake with Billy Bob Thornton and it's a good thing to because it was utter crap!


Well....it's a sci-fi action film set in a grim future and it stars C. Thomas Howell, David Carradine and Rowdy Roddy Piper and that should tell you all you need to know. It does have an interesting script if you can tolerate it long enough to see it to the end and Clarence Williams III has a quick cameo but this sort of fare is really for die-hards only but is at least worth watching just for Piper!

One Hour Photo

For all of the work Robin Williams has done over the years nothing stands out quite as much as his performance here. His quiet understated presentation of a neurotic becoming unhinged is utterly terrifying and the results are an experience you wont easily forget. Mark Romanek, who is mainly known for his music video work, not only directs this to perfection but he also provided a unique, subtle and supremely disturbing script. This is one I don't want to give too much of the story away and is it such a special one but for those of you who've not yet seen it I will say Williams plays a photo developer who becomes obsessed with what appears to be your everyday average family. What ends up unfolding will creep you out long after you watch it and you could very well find yourself choosing to digitaly develop your own pictures in the future. This was one of Williams' "dark trilogy" and by far is the best!

The Crush

I seem to recall wasting good money to go and see this one in the theatre when it came out which begs me to ask the question why the hell would I spend more money buying the damn video. Actually, time has been kind to this film which mark the debut of Alicia Silverstone in the role of the 14 year old Lolita with a serious head problem. Cary Elwes provides the male subject of obession and there are a few good moments to be had but it really is just tweenie standard fare. Amber Benson, later of BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER fame also makes her first big screen appearance as do a lot of angry bees giving a whole new meaning to the phrase "who put the bee in her bonnet".

The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie

Uh yeah....why is it I continue to sit through these type of films. The whole hysteria surrounding SpongeBob was lost on me so this film didn`t do a heck of a lot in my department though I did think it was cool to see Motorhead rework a tune for the project and great to see David Hasselhoff in a cameo and Clancy Brown, Alec Baldwin and Scarlett Johansson doing some voice work but really, unless you `get it`this one will be useless for you.

The Wings of the Dove

Iain Softley is yet another one of those directors who jumps all over the board. From HACKERS and BACKBEAT to K-PAX and SKELETON KEYyou just never know what to expect from him and THE WINGS OF THE DOVE is the oddest of them all. A straight forward adaptation of the Henry James novel this turn of the century story of love and loss and malicious poverty is one for the ages and it earned Helena Bonham Carter her only Oscar nomination to date. I thought she should have taken it for her portayal of the smouldering, brooding reserved Kate Croy and this is some of the finest work she has ever done. The entire cast works wonders with the sharp script and Softley`s directing style pulls off one of those rare effects where you almost feel you`ve been transported through time. A dark and depressing piece of work for sure but certainly required viewing.

China Moon

Ed Harris manages to save this supposed "film noir" erotic thriller but just barely. I suppose if you're looking for a bit of sultry late night fluff it will do the job and Madeline Stowe is more than effective as the femme fatale but CHINA MOON never manages to be anything by average and bland. Even Benicio Del Toro and Charles Dance with their sleazy charm can't help out here with this run of the mill script. Nothing special.

Something to Talk About

Lasse Hallstrom is one of those directors you just never know what you'll get from and SOMETHING TO TALK ABOUT is another oddity. It's a straight forward Hollywood chick-flick but a damn good one at that. Perhaps a little mean spirited towards men at times but hey, that's the genre and it's to be expected from time to time. Julia Roberts is her usual self here but the real surprise is Kyra Sedgwick who should enter the hall of fame for the greatest knee to the nuts ever caught on film which makes me a little concerned for the overall safety of hubby Kevin Bacon. Fine pacing with an above average script make this am excellent time waster and a perfect selection for the guys forced to sit through a lady's choice.

Zombi Holocaust (Dr. Butcher M.D.)

Beleive it or not this is considered the sequel to ZOMBI and truth be told they would have been better off leaving that as a stand alone. When I was a teenager and the big splatter film craze was at it's peak they reissued this as DR. BUTCHER M.D. which of course meant I had to see it. I don't recall being overly impressed back then but did that stop me from shelling out my hard earned cash on the DVD....Noooooooooooooooooooooooooo! Boy oh boy is this a stinker, mind you, not the worst and there is a bit of gore thrown in there to make it somewhat worthwhile but story and plot...forget it. If you happen to catch it in an all-night horror fest fine, otherwise save your money and time.

Mystery Men

Interesting adaptation of the Dark Horse comic book has an all-star older slacker cast with some real gems in the acting department. How they landed William H. Macy and Geoffrey Rush is the real mystery to me though both are excellent and wonderful to watch in such off-beat roles. Ben Stiller once again turns in the obnoxious winer role yet again and in my opinion is the weakest link in the film . Janeane Garofalo, who looks smokin' hot in this flick, is a riot as The Bowler and her dry wit is put to great use here. Look for cameos from Jody Watley and Mark Mothersbaugh.

The Reluctant Astronaut

Hard to say if the work of Don Knotts will ever manage to translate well for the future generations of young viewers. It`s an old and innocent style of comedy and in this age of crassness aimed at all age groups I fear these old family films will be lost forever. Mind you, there is a lot of drinking throughout this one where Knotts plays an amusment park space ride opperator who gets shipped to NASA where, unknown to family and friends, he is just a janitor and not an astronaut. As fate would have it, the man who is afraid of heights ends up being shipped into space and....well....you can figure out the rest. Leslie Nielsen is here in one of his straight roles and while the laughs are dated they will still entertain those old enough to remember this style from the Sixties.

Twilight Zone:The Movie

It`s hard to imagine 25 years have passed since the release of this film and I`m happy to report time has been kind to it. I remember finding the opening episode a littel too preachy and the second far too sappy but they stand up as solid pieces. Of course only the first segment is original with the other three being recreations. While using Bill Mumy in a cameo and having Burgess Meredith narrate were nice touches I thought they could have used more Zone veterans especially in the KICK THE CAN segment. Known mostly for the horrid accident that killed Vic Morrow and two others it is also notable as being the first film role for Nancy Cartwright better known to most as the voice of Bart Simpson and look for Rod Serling`s wife Carol as a stewardess in NIGHTMARE AT 20,000 FEET which is a Richard Mattheson classic.


Strange little film which puts Dennis Leary and Joe Mantegna together in a weird sort of film noire type of experience. It deals with a recently released mobster who is out to settle some old scores all the while coming across as a jailhouse philosopher. It`s a perfect role for Leary and Mantegna carries himself well but the script is choppy making this a rather tedious experience at best. Annabella Sciorra has a few moments and Traci Lords has a nice bit part but you can either take or leave this one.

Jimi Hendrix at the Isle of Wight

As far as music goes I`m not sure anybody gave a great performance at the Isle of Wight festival. Sound and gear problems galore and just as many forms of drugs and alcohol to match most people ended up producing nothing but a serious wall of noise and Hendrix was no exception. I was lucky enough to catch it on the big screen recently and while that was a treat I must be honest and say this Murray Lerner documentary does not show Jimi at his best. Mind you, if you`re a fan of industrial music you may greatly enjoy this baby but really it is only of interest as it was shot just a couple of weeks before Hendrix died.

My Geisha

This 1962 feature was marketed as a comedy and while it does contain comedic elements it is in fact more of a drama than anything else. It's considered a classic but one many have not seen so I don't wish to spoil the plot for those who haven't. What is great is Shirley MacLaine who not only gives a superb performance here but looks hotter than hell doing it. These days we tend to think of her a new age past life experience advocate and we often forget what a fine actress she was not to mention there were damn good reasons why Frank and the rest of the rat packers kept her around. A fine viewing experience with some truly heart warming moments and well worth keeping an eye out for.


Considering the talent involved one would expect much more from this uneven piece of fluff. Yet another film dealing with the whole mid-life crisis issue, this time being done in the form of Jack Nicholson being bitten by a wolf and doing the whole lycanthropic thing. That this would have been directed by Mike Nichols who recently had hits with CLOSER and CHARLIE WILSON'S WAR not to mention his classics THE GRADUATE and CATCH 22 only makes one scratch their head even more. It just never manages to find it's footing. James Spader tries to help but is wasted as are Christopher Plummer and David Hyde Pierce and even Michelle Pfeiffer can't save this flea bitten mess. It works a bit better if you think of it as an off-beat homage to the Roger Corman films where Nicholson cut his acting chops but, truth be told, this beast should be taken out to the woodshed and put down.

Blade Runner-The Final Cut

Those looking for anything exciting and new from this "final cut" will be sadly let down. In fact, as best as I could tell there really were only a few seconds here and there added and an extension of the unicorn scene all of which we pretty my saw in the director's cut which was in fact not cut by Ridley Scott at all. Still a great film though I found it odd the print I saw in the theatre should looks as though it was floating around as long as the original edit has.

The Siege

A very interesting film in that it predates the horrific events of 9/11 and manages to get a great majority of the story right. The terrorist faction uses bombs instead of planes in this case and not only does Denzel Washington have to contend with the fanatics from the Middle East he also has to deal with the home-grown war mongers led by a rather ineffective Bruce Willis. With a face lice Washington at the helm, backed by a less than credible Annette Bening in a role I shan't spoil for you, Willis is just too A-list and the film would have been far better served to have used somebody less known in that part. Still, as is most often the case, Denzel can carry the film all on his own and there is one hostage scene in particular you won't easily forget. Tony Shalhoub also has a very moving and interesting role in this motion picture and look for Chip Zien in a bit part as Chief of Staff.

Friday, April 11, 2008

True Lies

For all of the work James Cameron has done this remains my all-time favorite. Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jamie Lee Curtis simply light up the screen in this, yet another moral tale of mid-life crisis. Oh sure, there are terrorists and lots of explosions and of course Bill Paxton as the slimebal used-car salesman con artist posing as a spy to get into Jamie Lee's pant suit (can you blame him!) but when it comes down to it the story is about a house wife who is frustrated with what her life has become. What makes TRUE LIES such a great piece of work is the script which Cameron wrote himself and I'd say it's his best work. Tight, smart and very funny..this is one solidly fun film suitable for the whole family!

The Car

Film students love to wax poetic on this 1977 film about a demon car on the rampage in a small rural town and that's all well and good. Problem is if you are not a film student this is just a really stupid film about a demon car on the rampage in a small rural town and it shocks me to think this but of silliness actually scared people back in the day. It does have a few moments and James "Mr. Barbara Streisand" Brolin does lend credibility to it and it's nice to see the Richards sisters (who are Aunts to Paris Hilton) working on screen together but in the end it comes down to simply being a really stupid film about a demon car on the rampage in a small rural town and your money would be far better spent renting DUEL instead.

Exit Wounds

Steven Seagal certainly isn't a young man any more and it shows in this Toronto shot action piece. It's standard fare with a couple of interesting twists, not much to speak of in the fight department which is odd considering it's a Seagal flick. Rapper DMX is more than adequate and Tom Arnold even manages to get some good moments in. My man Tig Fong did stunt work on this one and thank the good Lord was not involved in the accident that ending up costing local stunt man Chris Lamon his life. You can catch this one on PEACHTREE but if this genre is your thing you may want to rent it just to hear the cussing from Anthony Anderson.


It is well known the readers here how much I loathe this Paul Thomas Anderson film. When it came out it struck me as the type of movie the masses praise because they don't have the guts to say they had no clue what it was about. Chance and fate is what it's about and I will confess it was a tad more enjoyable on my most recent viewing than I had expected. The acting is top drawer all the way, no doubt about that but with this type if intertwined opus I just can't help but feel I'm watching a Robert Altman film. Tom Cruise is excellent and I have to wonder if he wasn't watching old Ric Flair and Shawn Michaels wrestling tapes before filming started because his character seems to have borrowed heavily from the two. AND I will give MAGNOLIA one thumb up for the falling frogs...one sequence is just amazing!

Star Trek-TOS-A Taste of Armageddon

One of the purest episodes as far as science fiction goes. The Enterprise, under orders from the tit headed Ambassador Fox played by the late Gene Lyons, ignores the warnings to stay away from a planet waging a war with computers where caualties are tallied and "victims" report to disintegration chamber. Not heavy on the special effects but great as a concept and we have Barbara Babcock in the female lead. Along with Magel Barrett she often provided uncredited computer voices throughout the series. Nice lighting and one of the best serious episodes.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

A Nightmare on Elm Street 4-The Dream Master

By the time a horror franchise hits number four in the series things tend to get a bit silly and Nightmare is no exception. Freddy is back of course to cause shit and raise a little hell and that's about all you need to know about this one other than Linnea Quigley has a cameo as one of the souls popping out of Freddy's chest in the finale. There are a few interesting moments but no splat to speakof which really defeats the purpose doesn't it.

The Holcroft Covenant

John Frankenheimer can always be relied upon to provide a good spy yarn when need and when the material is based on a Robert Ludlum novel you just know things will be good. In the case of THE HOLCROFT COVENANT, if Michael Caine had not been in the lead the whole thing would have gone to pot. Fortunately for us he is in the lead and this is what makes the film so enjoyable. A bit thick in the plot department, an area they could have shored up on had they stuck more closely to the book, this will still satify your hunger for good old cold war spy action and be sure not to miss the mardis gras scene.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008


I must admit I didn't expect much from this low budget, Ottawa shot sci-fi/horror bit of fluff but it turned out to be surprisingly entertaining. This has a lot to do with the talents of director Matthew Hastings who recently delivered some fine work with PAINKILLER JANE and it certainly didn't hurt to see BAYWATCH veteran Nicole Eggert prancing about but the real surprise were the CGI effects. Done with shoe string cash no doubt they in fact were presented and used better than many of the recent offerings of shit from Hollywood. DECOYS is doing late night rotation on SPACE and if you find yourself drunk and munching on the cold pizza this baby warrants a boo!

Desperate Hours

I'm not sure what went wrong with this Michael Cimino thriller. The man is a great director but while he has given us such classics as THE DEERHUNTER and YEAR OF THE DRAGON he always gave us THE SICILIAN and this serious botched up clunker. Fine performances here from Mickey "hey, do I get to live at the end of this film" Rourke and Anthony Hopkins but for some reason the effect is never realised. Even with support from the likes of David Morse, Elias Koteas, Kelly Lynch, Mimi Rogers and Shawnee Smith this film never manages to achieve lift off. Certainly required viewing for fans of Rourke and Hopkins and entertaining enough as a straight forward thriller but nothing special to write home about.

Easy Money

Standard fare from Rodney Dangerfield...really only interesting to see him work with Joe Pesci and to see a young Jennifer Jason Leigh do the hormone overkill thing.

White Zombie

Next to DRACULA this is the best performance from Bela Lugosi you can find. Shame it's a slow and clunky piece of work mainly due to Victor Halpern;s stiff style of driecting. Still, you can find this in dollar bins everywhere and it's worth a buck just to see Lugosi as Murder Legendre (what a great name!) the zombie master who provides pretty much all of the action here. Unlike other roles his style suits the character perfectly and seeing as this 1932 flick clocks in at a mere hour and ten minutes it's well worth a look. As a small bit of trivia, Rob Zombie named his band after this one...not sure why but apparantly he did!

Time After Time

Nicholas Meyer is a man who does his homework and has a great appreciation for the subjects he decides to tackle. Prior to this project he wrote one of the greatest non-A.C. Doyle Sherlock Holmes novels ever, this being THE SEVEN-PER-CENT SOLUTION which was adapted into an equally fine film. With TIME AFTER TIME, which marks his directorial debut we have H.G. Wells travelling through time to stop Jack the Ripper. With Malcolm McDowell and David Warner in the leads we are treated to a cinematic tour-de-force. Yes, there is the giant hole in the plot, this being why doesn't Wells simply go back in time and stop the Ripper before he comes to the future and the answer to this is it would be one fuck of a damn boring story if he did and the next person who comes to watch a film at my place who complains about such obvious plot devices will be shipped in their own time machine permanantly from my residence! Aside from the wonderful historical devices Meyer uses to propel his story are the stunning homages he pays to the classic sci-fi films of the 50's making this a true gem for true fans of the genre. A great love story with some genuine thrills be sure to look hard for Corey Feldman in his big screen debut and you might want to double bill this with Meyer's first Star Trek film THE WRATH OF KHAN.

The Picture of Dorian Gray

By no means is this 1973 ABC MOVIE OF THE WEEK version of the Oscar Wilde classic even close to the 1945 MGM presentation but it is certainly of some interest. For starters it seems the production company managed to find every out of work Englisman (or anything close) for it including Nigel Davenport and Shane Briant. It is slow in pace but works if one is willing to endure the slow pacing and it is satisfying in that it deals with the sexual aspects of this sordid tale remakably well, especially when you consider the time and medium in which it was made. Look for Fionnula Flanagan who would later become a Star Trek regular guest.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

The Abyss

If we don't count PIRANHA PART TWO-THE SPAWNING, and we shouldn't, THE ABYSS marks director James Cameron's obsession with water based films and for the first 80 percent of it what a film! Sad thing is, and it doesn't matter if you watch the studio version or the director's cut with the additional footage, the ending sinks much like the Titanic did. Like so so so many of the films I blurb here I'm sure you've seen it and I don't need to go on about it other than stating it was an amazing acting and technical feat combined and a damn tight film until we run into those aliens at the end. Sure, damn cool aliens with a wonderful scientific concept, no surprise here as THE ABYSS is by far the best "good science" film of it's time but damned if that preachy message on world piece didn't drop it down to the level of E.T. when all was said and done. Still worth a watch but make sure you have the salt shaker ready for the end.

Dr. No

I've easily seen this, the first of the James Bond films, 30 or 40 times over the years but never on a big screen and tonight I had the chance in a rare screening presented by THE FOX THEATRE here in the Toronto Beaches. One can often say the first is usually the best and though we've had many great Bond films this could very well fall under that rule. Sean Connery is simply excellent in his debut to the character and for many he will remain the Bond by which all others will be judged. While Joseph Wiseman delivers a wonderfully reserved performance as the cool and diabolical Dr. No it will always be Ursuala Andress as Honey Rider who will be remembered as the true legend of this film. Released in 1962 you can pit Ursual against any sex symbol of any era of film and she would more than likely top them all! Smart direction from Terence Youngm a tight no nonsense script and lots of involvement from Ian Fleming himself make this an absolte must-see Bond and even though the print I saw tonight was a bit rough, should it surface in your local Rep don't miss it!

Avril Lavigne Live in Toronto

Well, little Avril is not so little anymore as her presentation of her BEST DAMN TOUR last night at the Air Canada Centre certainly showed. Yes, I'm well aware many are upset with her since the commercial transformation....I say what the hell, the girl is entitled to make her millions and judging from the sold out crowd greeting her as she opened with her "controversial" hit GIRLFRIEND they agree! I tell ya, when you hear 17,000 8 to 14 year olds singing along to COMPLICATED or I'M WITH YOU I don't care how old and jaded you are you are bound to be moved. The second leg of the tour will swing back into Canada in August and for those of you who missed her this time out you'd do well not to make the same mistake next time.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

R.I.P Charlton Heston

From the biblical epics to Planet of the Apes to The Omega Man....we will miss this true Hollywood great.

Saturday, April 05, 2008


On with the thread of bummer films DRUNKS is just that. The cumulative story of beautiful people who all just happen to be alcoholics. It is based on a stage play and I've heard it was star Richard Lewis who pushed to have this one made after he himself completed his twelve step AA program. It's an interesting role for him and he gives it a serious go, as do Parker Posey, Amanda Plummer and Calista Flockhart. One of the greatest and also saddest moments in the film is a scene stealing rap from the late Spalding Grey and one could make a great argument as top Faye Dunaway's character being a homage continuation of that as the one she played in BARFLY. Dark and gritty this is a REAL version of LEAVING LAS VEGAS and as morose as it may seem at times it still does offer a glimpse of hope.


You can't help but think Robert Redford was taking some serious notes while being directed by Stuart Rosenberg in this one.....you can see the influence in Redford's own directing style. Rosenberg gives us another prison drama and in this case another serious bummer, one where the politicians turn out to be even bigger crooks than the inmates. Very tight piece of work with the type of character establishing shots all but extinct in Hollywood these days, the ones with Brubaker trying to shoot the rat being one of my favorite. Hard to imagine this film only came out in 1980 as it seems like it's exisited forever and will no doubt, like so many reality based films, it will survive for many years to come.

The Rules of Attraction

There sure is a lot more to this film than meets the eye. On the surface it looks like a spin-off/cash-in on the success of the film adaptation of Bret Easton Ellis' AMERICAN PSYCHO with a soon-to-be-All-star cast of up-and-coming new brat packers. Look a bit deeper and you will find a mighty cynical and serious looks of the sex, drugs and rock & roll world of university life. The threat was there for the whole thing to fall flat on it's face were it not for the directing skills of Roger Avery, he who was effectively hidden by Tarantino in RESERVOIRE DOGS and PULP FICTION and stood on his own with the cult classic KILLING ZOE. He also has the distinction of being the only famous person other than Bobby Clarke to come from Flin Flon, Manitoba! As much as this is a signature Ellis style piece I couldn't help but feel I was watchinh an Americanized version of an Irvine Welsh project. THE RULES OF ATTRACTION may seem a littel juvie for the tastes of some but it does provide some good laughs mixed with some serious hurt and tragedy, a combo sure to entertain.


Adaptation of David Mamet's stage work for the big screen have been hit and miss over the years and once again the opinions are half and half as to if EDMOND works or not. I'm of the mind it's a brilliant success especially the performance of William H. Macy. Like his work in FOCUS, this one seems to have slipped under most people's radar and it's a shame. It's a classic examination of a man's midlife death (crisis), fall and rebirth and in Macy's cannon of work this may well prove to be his finest work. Also of note is the fact it was directed by Stuart Gordon who is known by most for his horror work. One could say this is a departure but it really isn't as there is in fact a monster here but as is so often the case he is all too human. Another bummer flick for sure and I certainly don't recommend it to anyone in the middle of a divorce as Mamet was when he penned it.

Das Boot (The Boat)

By far the best submarine movie ever made and quite possibly the best overall war movie as well. Amazing direction and set work with a script and acting to match it is absolutely stunning to imagine with six Oscar nominations this masterpiece could have walked away empty handed. Two no-brainer suggestions here, catch it undubbed and on a big screen if at all possible, and brace yourself for one of the biggest bummer endings in motion picture history.

Friday, April 04, 2008

What's Eating Gilbert Grape

Here is one of those films I avoided like an S.T.D., I mean, some Dutch dude directing a chick flick with Johnny Depp and Leonardo DiCaprio.....yeah...that's really gonna float my boat. I don't care if Juliette Lewis and Mary Steenburgen are in it or not! Alas, as is the case with the video collections I've bought sight unseen over they years, if it enters the house I will sooner or later have to watch it and in the case of WHAT'S EATING GILBERT GRAPE I was shocked at just how well made it was. Great all around film in look and feel with top drawer acting and a way above average script. Of course you've probably seen it so I don't have to write much about it, especially as I'm behind a hundred or more blurbs from the lasy eight weeks I've been in pursuit of this new discovery of mine called "food". I will say this, the ending is one of the most powerful you will encounter is this type of film....then again...what kind of film is it because I've never seen anything quite like it.

Antwone Fisher

Considering the number of awards and nominations this one received it's amazing it never even got a sniff from the Academy come Oscar time. I'm not sure if this bothered Denzel Washington, who both directs and stars in this moving true life story. In my opinion it shouldn't, he delivers a film dealing with some serious issues that manages to be touching without sappy, serious with being too preachy and entertaining to boot. It's one of those rare modern pieces of work that I feel will stand the test of time and will be just as powerful fifty years from now as it is in the here and now. Do yourself a favor and rent it so you can see it commercial free as you will not want the distractions....and make sure there is a box of Kleenex because this one can make the staunchest of cynics cry!

Very Bad Things

One very disturbing film to say the least and perhaps Christian Slater's best work since HEATHERS. In fact, the character he plays here is pretty much the same which makes him perfect as yet another sociopath in a society of moraly bankrupt tit-wads. Cameron Diaz is fabulous as the Bridezilla gone wild. This marks the big screen directorial debut of Peter Berg who had recent success with THE KINGDOM and is now at the helm of the new DUNE adaptation. It shows here as casting and pacing are often askew but you could do worse than this darkly disturbing "comedy".

Wednesday, April 02, 2008


I'm not sure how Philip Kaufman was dragged into directing this adequate by uneven murder thriller. He's known for such classics as THE UNBEARABLE LIGHTNESS OF BEING and THE RIGHT STUFF so to see him at the helm of such a standard psycho drama makes one scratch the head a bit. Still, TWISTED is an ok little number with Ashley Judd looking better than ever and Andy Garcia turning in yet another angry brooding performance. The real shocker here is Samuel L. Jackson who I swear looks like he was sleepwalking through this one. Fine if you catch it on late night TV but save you money as far as rental or purchase goes.

The Contender

Here we have Gary Oldman in one of the oddest roles I've ever seen him in, as a politico juggernaut. We also have Jeff Bridges as the president and William Petersen as a senator in line to be the next vice president. Of course THE CONTENDER is about American politics and it is dialogue driven piece of work with very little action. The end in unbelievable but it's of no import, the performances across the board are so great, especially from Sam Elliott and Joan Allen, that you more than willingly accept how they wrap things up. Action seekers may wish to take a pass but for those in search of some half decent cerebral candy THE CONTENDER will fit the bill.

Loving Evangeline

Timothy Bond has directed more TV sci-fi/horror shows than I care to list here which is makes LOVING EVANGELINE so unique. It's a made-for-television movie which keeps popping up on the WOMEN'S NETWORK for some reason. Folks routinely trash this one and the most common complaint has to do with it being an adaptation of a Linda Howard novel, who I've never heard of let alone read. Still, I found it oddly entertaining and this mostly has to do with Nick Mancuso. For some reason he is quite compelling to watch in this one. By no means a great piece of work it will still entertain you if you are too hung over to get up and switch the station.


A rather uneven film in both story and acting, DECEIVER is one you will want to watch with a clear head otherwise you'll never be able to keep track of this twisting mess of a story. It's an early and ambitious piece of work from the Pate twins who having been working out of Vancouver of late on such shows as BATTLESTAR GALACTICA and THE BIONIC WOMEN, or at least Jonas has, it is easy to forgive it's flaws because of the stellar performance form Tim Roth who carries this one on his shoulders. Not an easy film to find but well worth a look should you stumble upon it.

High Fidelity

I must confess, I've tried to read the book by Nick Hornby at least half a dozen times and I've yet been able to finish it. Not sure why but happily this is not the case with Stephen Frears' film, which sticks out as a bit of an oddity in his body of work. It helps if you were or are a record collector, somewhat of an antiquated hobby for sure but a more precise portrayal of the mentality you'll be hard pressed to find. John Cusack is his normal endearing self and is perfect in the lead.....hell...even Jack Black can be tolerated here. Good fun and still perfect for a date viewing.

Interview with the Vampire

Well, there isn't much to say about this one.....you either loved it or hated it. For my money I thought Tom Cruise was great as was Kirsten Dunst, Antonio Banderas and Stephen Rea.....I would have loved to have seen more of Thandie Newton and it is most likely the worst acting job Brad Pitt has ever turned in and I still think Anne Rice should have done a cameo of some sort.

Sid & Nancy

Despite the fact Johnny Rotten/Lydon has some serious problems with this film, and he has every right to, it remains by far one of the best docu-drama looks at this period of music history, ranking right up there with QUADROPHENIA in my opinion. It certainly helps that director Alex Cox lived it and we see this with his earlier cult classic REPO MAN but he makes one serious error and this is with his casting of Andrew Schofield as Rotten. When you consider Gary Oldman becomes Sid Vicious, much as Val Kilmer did with Jim Morrison in THE DORRS, it baffles the mind just how unlike Rotten Schofield manages to be. Lydon feels the story misrepresents the life of Vicious and who are we to argue with one who lived through it with him but one certainly can't deny Cox should have at least consulted him before undertaking such a project. Be that as it may, SID & NANCY, aside from a slice of history tells a tragic love story of Shakespearian proportions. Chloe Webb nails Nancy Spungen right on the button and manages to deliver what may be the most hated female lead in motion picture history. Oddly enough, Courtney Love, who would later be involved in what might very well be considered Sid & Nancy Part 2 for real, makes her film debut here and if you look you'll see Iggy Pop and Chuck Biscuits as well. An all around excellent piece of work with one of the best surreal death scenes I've ever seen making it worth watching just for the ending alone.